Kort, Michele 1950–

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Kort, Michele 1950–

(Michele Faye Kort)

PERSONAL: Born January 30, 1950, in Los Angeles, CA; daughter of Norman Elliot and Shirley Jean (Cohen) Kort. Education: University of California, Los Angeles, B.A., 1971, M.B.A., 1975. Politics: Democrat.

ADDRESSES: Home—Los Angeles, CA. Office—433 S. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Agent—Ellen Geiger, Frances Goldin Agency, 57 E. 11th St., Ste. 5B, New York, NY 10003. E-mail[email protected]; [email protected].

CAREER: Journalist, editor, and writer. Freelance writer, 1977; Grantsmanship Center, Los Angeles, CA, associate and acting editor for Grantsmanship Center News, 1977–78; Songwriter (magazine), Los Angeles, assistant editor, 1980–81; University of California, Los Angeles, senior writer for UCLA (magazine), 1990–94; Weider Publications, Woodland Hills, CA, senior editor of Living Fit and Fit Pregnancy (magazines), 1994; Ms. (magazine), Beverly Hills, CA, currently senior editor. Fulfillment Fund, Los Angeles, CA, mentor, 1993–97.

AWARDS, HONORS: Deems Taylor award, American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, 1980, for work in music journalism; Gold medal, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, 1991, for advancement of the support of education; Miller Lite Women's Sports Journalism Award, Women's Sports Foundation, 1993; Journalism Award, L.A. Press Club, 1994; Western Publishing Association award.


Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2002.

(With Chastity Bono) The End of Innocence: A Memoir, Advocate Books (Los Angeles, CA), 2002.

Dinah!: Three Decades of Sex, Golf, and Rock 'n' Roll, Out Traveler Books (Los Angeles, CA), 2005.

Contributor to The W Effect: Bush's War on Women, edited by Laura Flanders, Feminist Press, 2004. Also contributor of feature articles to periodicals, including Advocate, L.A. Weekly, Los Angeles Times magazine, Fitness, InStyle, Ms., Shape, Redbook, Women's Sports and Fitness, and Vegetarian Times.

SIDELIGHTS: A journalist since the 1970s, Michele Kort first experimented with longer forms of nonfiction in 2002 with the publication of Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro. Kort's premiere book is the first published biography of 1960s rock superstar Laura Nyro. In it, Kort examines Nyro's life and attempts to discover why the performer's recognition as an important figure in rock and roll has, over time, diminished into obscurity. Kort asserts that Nyro's groundbreaking role as a female rocker paved the way for subsequent female singers and musicians—many of whom never heard of Nyro. The author examines Nyro's life from her rock-and-roll debut in the 1960s, through her stint as a folksy singer, to the long-term relationship with painter Maria Desiderio that ended tragically when first Nyro, and then Desiderio, succumbed to ovarian cancer. "Kort's first effort as a biographer covers Nyro's life from start to finish and is an informing, satisfying read," wrote Stewart Landers in Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide. In a review of Soul Picnic for Booklist, Mike Tribby reported that "Kort's admiring biography begins to give Nyro and her impressive music their due."

The publication of Soul Picnic was part of a revival that led to renewed interest in Nyro's music and sparked new dialogue among Nyro's devoted fans. In an interview for the Clouds and Clocks Web site, Kort told interviewer Beppe Colli that once the book was published, "I found that most fans of Laura Nyro have a similar story: They thought they were the only ones who were so touched by her music!" Kort also remarked, "I wanted to restore [Nyro] to her proper place in the pantheon of pop culture history."

Kort's The End of Innocence: A Memoir is Chastity Bono's story and was written with the famous daughter of Sonny and Cher. Bono's tale begins at the age of twenty-three, when she formed the band Ceremony with then-girlfriend Rachel. Ultimately, the band's debut song was unsuccessful, and Bono began to fall in love with Joan Stephens, an older family friend who had just become afflicted with cancer. The book focuses on Bono's relationship with Stephens and the progression of the illness that eventually took the older woman's life. While Lambda Book Report contributor Randy Turoff felt that the book devotes too much attention to Bono's failed music career, he commented that it gains substance when the musician reaches "the end of innocence" and begins to reflect on the deeper issues of her life—chiefly, the loss of her lover. "It is only through her suffering that the emotional veracity, raw and exposed, begins to feel real for the reader," wrote Turoff. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the book "packs an emotional punch with brutally frank depictions of loving and living with a person with a terminal illness," and presents readers with a "wrenching and exhausting finish."

Exploring a lighter subject, Dinah!: Three Decades of Sex, Golf, and Rock 'n' Roll profiles a famous annual all-lesbian social gathering in Palm Springs. Kort documents the history of the Dinah Shore Weekend, which began as a golf tournament in 1972, and examines the evolution of the event. Interviews, photographs, and suggestions on where to stay and what to do at the Dinah Shores Weekend turn this book into both a guide and tribute for novice and veteran vacationers alike. In an review of Dinah! for the LesbiaNation Web site, Chris S. Witwer described the book as "a fun, interesting, easy-to-read, yet comprehensive guide."

Kort told CA: "I fell into writing by applying for a job as an assistant editor, and I soon discovered I loved journalism. I believe I was most influenced by the straightforward writing style of Gloria Steinem. My writing process is to procrastinate as long as possible, then work with compressed energy. I do much of my pre-writing thinking when I'm in bed (often just as I wake up), or when I'm in motion (walking, driving).

"The surprising thing about writing? How perpetually hard it is, even as one gets better and better at it. As for favorite books, my Laura Nyro bio was my labor of love. It was five years of pleasure, from conception to publication.

"I want people to be moved to laughter or tears, and I want them to be inspired to explore further whatever I've written about, whether it's listening to Laura Nyro's music, going to Palm Springs for the Dinah Shore, or just doing additional research on a topic."



Booklist, April 1, 2002, Mike Tribby, review of Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro, p. 1292; April 15, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of The End of Innocence: A Memoir, p. 1362.

Curve, May, 2005, Rachel Pepper, "Give Me Fever," review of Dinah!: Three Decades of Sex, Golf, and Rock 'n' Roll, p. 68.

Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, September-October, 2002, Stewart Landers, "A Woman of Rock," review of Soul Picnic, p. 42.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2002, review of The End of Innocence, p. 465; March 1, 2002, review of Soul Picnic, p. 311.

Lambda Book Report, June-July, 2002, Randy Turoff, "Becoming Her Own Person," review of The End of Innocence, p. 19.

Library Journal, March 1, 2002, Bette-Lee Fox, review of Soul Picnic, p. 102; May 15, 2002, Debra Moore, review of The End of Innocence, p. 115.

Publishers Weekly, April 1, 2002, review of The End of Innocence, p. 61.


Clouds and Clocks, http://www.cloudsandclocks.net/ (December 27, 2002), Beppe Colli, "Soul Picnic: An Interview with Michele Kort."

LesbiaNation, http://lesbianation.com/ (February 18, 2005), Chris S. Witwer, review of Dinah!

Michele Kort Home Page, http://www.michelekort.com (January 19, 2006).